10 Cutting-edge, Energy-efficient Building Materials


Plant-based Polyurethane Rigid Foam

After the No. 1 maker of surfboard material went out of business and was fined by the Environmental Protection Agency for using a toxic chemical, a surfboard maker in San Diego started producing a foam material that comes from plants.

Ned McMahon, chief operating officer of Malama Composites, is manufacturing the foam from materials such as bamboo, hemp and kelp.

The so-called rigid foam is used in insulation, wind turbine blades, furniture and, of course, surfboards.

When used as insulation, the foam offers high moisture and heat resistance, excellent acoustics and protection against mold and pests. It also has a higher R-value than fiberglass or polystyrene, meaning that it has a higher thermal resistance and insulates better [source: Malama Composites].